The idea behind having an open plan family room is that it’s a space where everyone can be at the same time, even if family members are doing different things. A breakfast bar is a great multi-use area, where people can eat breakfast, snack, chat with the person cooking, do some work on a laptop - whatever. For it to work, it shouldn’t obstruct your main food preparation area, or intrude into your living room area. A whole island often works really well too, because it means that people can sit and eat or drink - while facing people either in the kitchen area, or the living area.
This won’t be possible for everyone, but if you’re developing the downstairs of your home, and a kitchen family room forms part of it, then you might want to consider including a separate utility room. Not having to include appliances like washing machines and tumble dryers in your kitchen space is a bonus, as this will save space, and keep potentially noisy machines away from your living space.
Kitchens are very often spaces people flow through, not just spaces in which people do things, and this is especially true for open plan spaces like kitchen-living rooms. Depending on the layout of your home, family members might use the space as a thoroughfare, which means thinking about both making it easy for people to pass through (avoid excessive clutter), and ensuring the flooring is suitable. Ensure there’s plenty of space for people to move around - open plan is all about airy space, so don’t include too many features, such as an island, if there just isn’t space.
When it comes to the design and feel of the space, you’ve got a couple of options. You can either make things as coordinated as possible, with the same design elements in both the kitchen and family area, or you can create more of a split. It’s very common, for example, to use the same flooring throughout, but don’t be afraid to go for something really practical in the kitchen, and a little more comfortable in the living area. An eclectic mix is often a successful option for open plan areas, but if you’re not sure exactly what to do, then it’s always easier to play things safe and keep one theme throughout.
Our final point is that it’s always a good idea to include as much storage space as possible to control clutter, which can easily get out of control in an open plan family area. Of course you need a few essential fittings and devices such as range cookers, or other ovens. But after you have the main items lots of clutter can quickly detract from the relaxing yet practical theme of a kitchen family room, so plan for plenty of drawers, boxes and cupboards and make good use of corners with fold-out corner cupboards.